When a Snake Is Not a Snake!
As promised to 'puss-in-boots' in my previous post, here is my tale of the 18th python.....to set the scene:
In the years 1986/87, I was very fortunate to live on Hinchinbrook Island. I managed the resort at Cape Richards, situated on the far northern eastern tip of that magnificent, beautiful island. 245 square miles of island to be exact, with the resort area covering only 22 acres of the island's rugged, awesome, picturesque expanse. My husband and I had separated early 1986, so I was alone in my management and the first female to manage the resort. My home on the island was a small studio-type abode situated far removed from the rest of the accommodation on the island, the restaurant/bar/kitchen building, staff quarters and machinery areas. It was only a few metres/yards below the track up to the look-out on Cape Richards itself, with views from all quarters of the surrounding ocean to Garden and Goold Islands, both very short boat trips out from Cape Richards.
Through the bushes to the left of my 'house', quite a distance away, stood two cabins each housing some of my staff. My chief maintenance guy, Ted, lived in the furtherest cabin from my home. Ted was a 'true-blue' Aussie bloke. A man of few words and one if he liked you, (particularly a woman!) you knew he would never let you down. I never questioned him on his work as I had total faith in his abilities. At the end of his day I always made a point of having a beer with him before I'd go back to my place to shower and change for the evening in the restaurant. He and I would talk about everything and anything, however over our beers I learned what was happening out in the 'field' without appearing like a 'boss'. I was the first, and I would say, the last, woman he has ever worked for. We held a mutual respect for each other.
A normal day on the island for me would commence around 6am, sometimes earlier. I would go across to my office housed in the restaurant building to attend to the daily rosters, sea plane and boat arrivals etc., etc. During the day I dressed very casually either in shorts or long t-shirts...that sort of gear. I would race home every afteroon around 5pm for a quick shower and change into 'smart island-casual' for the evening frivolities. I'd spend the evenings talking with the guests...just being 'the hostess-with-the-mostest'! All that sort of fun stuff...and it was great fun. I met so many interesting, fascinating people from throughout this country and from overseas. To digress for a moment, John Nettles star of "Midsomer Murders" was a guest on the island for seven days. Lovely fellow, he was, too.
One Sunday, I'd got 'stuck' over at the restaurant all day. The Ansett Airlines Sales/Marketing people turned up that day for a "famil"...which in other words a 'freebie' for them. In fact, it was business for both of sides of the fence. They assess the resort and what it has to offer for their travellers. I was "talked-out", "smiled-out" and feeling tired...and just plain tired of people. so I wanted some "out" time for myself. Such "time" I never took for myself, always being on hand and "performing". As the Ansett crew were staying for two days/nights, I excused myself from not dining with them the first evening of their visit with a white fib...I had "paperwork to catch up on". I said I would dine with them on the following evening. I finally escaped from the restaurant at around 7.35pm for the first time to return to my abode since early that morning. Normally, when I went home in the afternoons to shower and change for the evenings, I would close the windows and doors of my house for the night. This, of course, I hadn't had a chance to do that particular day.
I remember the time very well, as if it were only yesterday. It was 7.40pm when I walked into my home. I'd not seen television for months. Upon arriving upstairs to my living and sleeping area...it was open-plan...I threw off the long t-shirt I had been wearing and without putting on the lights, I reached up to switch on the TV to watch "Sixty Minutes", turning on a wall light next to it at the same time. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed something move on my bed. When I turned to look, there was "George" the 18ft python that had been so aptly named by the staff. I had never set eyes on "George" before that night, though I had heard a lot about him. I wasn't very thrilled, as you can imagine, to find him on my bed! I froze. The first words that came out of my mouth were, "Jesus Bloody Christ!"
In my shocked state, I couldn't find the clothes I had just abandoned! So, I grabbed the nearest thing I could and threw it on me. I grabbed "Ruska", my twelve-year old ginger cat (yes, I was allowed to have my cat on the island. He was a house cat, rarely wandering outside other than to do his 'business'...obviously, "George" had his eye on Ruska)...and I put Ruska into the bathroom closing the door behind me. I then rushed down the spiral staircase...I don't remember my feet touching any of the stairs! I raced through the bush to Ted's cabin, yelling, 'Ted! Ted! Snake! Snake!' Ted rushed out at the sound of my strangled voice. Laughing his head off all the way back to my place, with me close behind him telling him it wasn't funny, we flew back up the staircase to find 'George' still squirming and slithering over my king-sized bed!
I grabbed my broom...I have no idea what good I was going to do with that...but it seemed right at the time. Ted kept up his laughter, gurgling "Get the camera! Get the camera!" While I'm cursing at him, telling him, "The effing camera is over at the effing resort...you get the effing snake out of here!" This went on for minutes! Both of us shouting at each other. Ted in glee and me in frantic panic! I was scared that "George" would get under the bed and we (or Ted) would never get him out!
Finally, Ted grabbed "George" by his monstrous tail. Manhandling the huge creature, Ted flung him off my deck on the Cape Richards' side of my house.
I can tell you honestly, I was a shaking mess for a little while! And I felt a bit of a hypocrite. Every day, sometimes up to three times a day, when guests arrived by seaplane or the boat contracted from the mainland, I sat them down while their luggage was being taken up to their cabins, for a "greet and meet". Over coffee, tea or juice, I would tell them about the island and what they could do and what to expect during their visit. During my talk with them, I would explain that there were snakes on the island but as the island was their (the snakes) natural habitat and we (humans) were the invaders of their territory.
The end of this story is....a few weeks later, I left the island to spend a night in Cardwell on tourist business. Upon my arrival back the following day.....Ruska was missing. I never saw him again. My heart was broken. He is still in my thoughts to this day. Ruska was a wonderful, loving pet that did no harm to anything.
What we should have done was put "George" in a large bag and transported him by boat to another part of the island. A lesson well-learned...but a lesson I wish I'd never had to learn.